Earthquake Weather
By: Beck Hansen, Daniel Webster, Mark Adams, Mark Hicks, Steve Washington, The Dust Brothers

Written by: Beck Hansen, Daniel Webster, Mark Adams, Mark Hicks, Steve Washington, The Dust Brothers

Versions:
  1. Earthquake Weather (4:26)
    Available on Guero.
    Credits
    Recorded at: The Boat
    Justin Meldal-Johnsen: Bass
    The Dust Brothers: Beats, Mix, Producer
    Roger Joseph Manning Jr.: Clavinet
    Joey Waronker: Drums
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Mix, Producer, Vocals
    Smokey Hormel: Guitar (Electric)
    Money Mark: Organ
  2. Terremoto Tempo (3:47)
    a.k.a. Terremento Tempo
    Available on Remix EP #2 and 1 other release.
    Credits
    Kassin: Bass, keyboards
    Domenico: Drums
    Mario Caldato Jr.: Remix
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
  3. Earthquake Weather (Leaked Version) (4:37)
    Available on Guero.
  4. Earthquake Weather (Surround Mix) (4:26)
    Available on Guero.
Unofficial Versions: [show/hide]
  1. The Earthquake Weather(ed) Corner (7:23)
    Credits
    El Keter: Remix (Mashup)
 
 
Lyrics:
Earthquake Weather [Version (a)]:

Spaceships can't tame the jungle
And I feel like I'm giving in
We've been driving through a desert
Looking for a life to call our own

I push, I pull
The days go slow
Into a void
We filled with death
And noise that laughs
Falls off their maps
All cured of pain
And doubts in your
Little brain

Something's coming, sky is purple
Dogs are howling to themselves
Days are changing with the weather
Like a riptide could rip us away

I push, I pull
The days go slow
Into a void
We filled with death
And noise that laughs
Falls off their maps
All cured of pain
And doubts in your
Little brain

I push, I pull
The days go slow
Into a void
We filled with death
And noise that laughs
Falls off thier maps
All cured of pain
And doubts in your
Little brain
Terremoto Tempo [Version (b)]:

Spaceships can't tame the jungle
And I feel like I'm giving in
We've been driving through a desert
Looking for a life to call our own

I push, I pull
The days go slow
Into a void
We filled with death
And noise that laughs
Falls off their maps
All cured of pain
And doubts in your
Little brain

Something's coming, sky is purple
Dogs are howling to themselves
Days are changing with the weather
Like a riptide could rip us away

I push, I pull
The days go slow
Into a void
We filled with death
And noise that laughs
Falls off their maps
All cured of pain
And doubts in your
Little brain

I push, I pull
The days go slow
Into a void
We filled with death
And noise that laughs
Falls off their maps
All cured of pain
And doubts in your
Little brain
 
 
The Song:

Earthquake Weather" is a trippy groove from Guero.

The song originated back during Midnite Vultures. At the time, some documentary-style studio clips of the recording sessions for the album were put up on beck.com. In one of the clips, Beck is seen experimenting over a beat. The beat, unknown and unfinished at the time, was later resurrected as "Earthquake Weather"!

Beck's classic Mutations/Sea Change band provide the song with an interesting and funky groove. I find the song has a very odd momentum to it. But at the same I dig some of the touches, like Roger's seductive clavinet and Smokey's soulful Brazilian-style guitar. The song feels both natural and intricately constructed at the same time. There's also some surprisingly subtle affects in the background if you listen closely--some horns and some crowd-type noise (cheers and the like).

There was also a slightly longer "leaked" version of the song, but for the life of me I can't quite tell at the moment how it's longer. I'll listen closer another time.

Beck explained the concept of "earthquake weather," an expression to describe "the kind of weather in LA where it's dry, exceptionally hot, feels like the pavement's gonna start cracking and there's no wind." It is quiet, dead and hot, a stillness before something's gonna happen. The song is not about a specific occasion, but tries to capture the mood, of stillness before change.

The question then becomes what is that change of which Beck is singing. Beck, on XFM, indicated it was a feeling in society prior to 9/11. "A couple of years before I wrote this song, there was a mood in the country that felt like a stillness, a quietness before something cataclysmic," he explained. "The late '90s, 2000... things were about to change, something coming. The lyrics speak to that."

Neither song is particularly specific, but that description from Beck reminds me of his comment about "Dark Star." He said that song is about an "imminent disaster," and surely an earthquake would qualify too.

But while "Dark Star" focuses more on the disaster and its causes, in "Earthquake Weather" there feels like a focus on the feeling of anticipation. Perhaps one aspect of a disaster is the relief that it is over with, and the satisfying feeling that the unknown became known. Even if disastrous.

I doubt the song is literally about an earthquake, but it is a useful metaphor. It could be cliched, but Beck smartly uses it to look at the anticipation before something big happens, as opposed to just looking at the big thing. I think the song is slightly obscure in its words, and maybe a little forced, but overall there is plenty here.
 
Live:

Played live 5 times:
Earliest known live version: June 20, 2005
Latest known live version: July 30, 2005

"Earthquake Weather" was never really one for the stage. They did attempt it a few times in the summer of 2005. We're missing a bunch of setlists around then--so perhaps there were more, but as it is, we only know of four setlists with it. Four!

Of those four, there are bootlegs of two. The version on July 12, 2005 is a pretty heavy slab of funk--the subtle Brazilian flavor is in there but covered by the beats. However, the arrangement still remains fairly faithful to the record, just with a bit more electric. It also ends fairly quickly after the last chorus, while the record has that extended coda.

A few weeks later, the version on July 30, doesn't feel quite as heavy (though that could be the sound quality of the recording) as the other. It sounds like the band has a better grasp of the song, as there's more cohesion...but then, it feels more standard. The July 12 is more exciting.
 
Notes: